Becoming part of another family is one of the most beautiful and heart-warming experiences I have ever had. My time in Zanjan is coming to an end and tomorrow it will sadly arrive there. While sitting in the living room with the family tonight, I became overwhelmed by a discussion about my departure and I couldn’t stop myself from crying from the simple fact that I had to leave these beautiful people. This month is important for many Muslim people as it commemorates Imam Hossein. The next few days are especially special and tomorrow night the family fly to Qom. They said they will cancel their tickets and rebook them for the next day just so I could spend one more day with them. I couldn’t let this happen on my account. I explained that these feelings will be the same whether it is Friday or Saturday and that we would just be delaying the inevitable. So, tomorrow I am to leave. I think it would be difficult to understand what it is like unless you have the experience yourself. Even with my previous experiences of sharing the lives of others across the world so far, this one has surprised me and expanded/deepened the level to which I can form strong bonds with people who I never knew existed. If I lived here, there is no doubt these guys would be my family. It makes me think about what I want in life. It feels like it would be incredibly easy for me to continue living here. But then my time here has been void of practical matters (a job for one). I am just a tourist in a foreign country. Yet at the same time I have become a member of an Iranian family (and a Zanjanian family in particular). Rather than be a simple observer, I have become a part of this place. I can honestly say I have fallen in love with these people, like I would love my family and close friends back home.
After a nice sleep in, Alireza and I had another day out together, getting a few things done in town before heading out to a dam, where we skimmed some rocks and tried to throw others as far as we could. On the way home we joined Sahar and Akbar in picking up Mohammad Mahdi from kindergarden. After an enjoyable afternoon at home, we (joined by Narges and Mali) piled into two cars and headed back towards Soltaniyeh (where I was yesterday) to visit Akbar’s family farm, where apples, potatoes and alfalfa are grown. A series of fish ponds are in construction. After a walk around I joined Sahar and Mali in the apple orchard and began to help them pick fruit. This became an all-family affair when we were joined by Aliresar, Akbar, Mohammad Mahdi and Aniya. I ate a few apples in the process – organically grown with less than two seconds between being picked and bitten = easily the most delicious apples I have ever had the pleasure of eating. We moved inside the farmhouse when it got dark. It was also incredibly cold. We hung out and feasted on chips before eating chicken on skewers with bread. At home we hung out some more. Some of us ate some more food to complete dinner. Narges showed me an album of her baby pictures. Aniya and Mohammad Mahdi run amok. We chatted and laughed and learned and loved.
|Accommodation||Home of lovely family|
|Distance ridden today||0km|
|Total distance ridden||23,975km|